As many readers know, I am a great fan of Sennheiser audio gear and have a fair bit of their kit in my studio, ranging from the HD300 headphones to an MKE400 on-camera mic, XSW wireless Lav mic set, MKE200 Vlogger unit, 435 vocal mic and of course a set of True Wireless 2 ear buds.
But I do not have a dedicated on-boom studio mic for our upcoming podcasts, so I was interested when Elgato offered me a review of its Wave:3 mic, complete with acoustic shock mount and “plosive” shield, commonly called a Pop Filter.
When it arrived, I hooked it up to my Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro and started playing.
The first thing that cropped up was a small issue with connectivity. You see, the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro has 3.5mm sockets for audio input but the Wave:3 uses USB-C.
If you are using the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro in its web cam mode with Skype or Zoom say, then this is not an issue, as the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro and associated software will simply treat it as a mic attached to a webcam, but if you are wanting to use the Wave:3 for production purposes then a work around is needed.
And that work around is to run a 3.5mm cable from the Wave:3’s monitor / headphone port to the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro mic in port.
But. If you keep the USB-C cable connected, you get godawful feedback happening so in my tests at least, I needed to detach that cable. Which takes away the power and so the Wave:3 then won’t operate.
My fix for that was to grab one of the (many) Powertech power banks I have around the place (ostensibly to power GoPro over long periods of time).
Again, I stress if all you want is decent mic to create podcasts, or do Twitch streaming using OBS, then this situation will not arise.
Build and Ergonomics
The Wave:3 is solid, made of steel not plastic and comes with a hefty mic stand, attached to a mount via a couple of threaded bolts into the sides of the mic itself. The mount part is plastic, but still seems quite durable.
As mentioned, I used the optional shock mount, and this is attached by removing the two screws from the mic stand mount and instead, applying them into the anti-shock mount. A couple of adaptors are supplied to make sure you can then connect it your boom or mic stand. The Pop filter is attached to the mic and shock mount via a simple slide in arrangement.
On the front are minimalist controls you need to make the Wave:3 do its thing, namely a combined push button and rotary dial. By pressing the button, you cycle through the three options of mic volume, monitor volume and mic/PC mix and when in the desired mode, turning the knob increases of decreases the volume accordingly.
And if you didn’t know it was there, you’d miss it; on the top of the Wave:3 is a touch panel that places the mic in mute mode, signified by the white LED ring around the volume control turning red.
All in all, the interface / controls of the Wave:3 are simple and easy to use whilst still being very effective.
The Wave:3 is a condenser mic, ideal for use in quieter surrounds. By utilising a cardioid polar pattern – which records in a sort of heart shaped pattern getting most of the audio recorded from the front and sides – you get high quality audio in a 24 bit / 96kHz format.
For the nontechies out there, this is Good. A technology called Clipguard is also used to minimise problems caused by people getting too close to the mic.
For my purposes with the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro and production, the Wave:3 is not perfect due to the work arounds needed. But the audio quality makes up for the niggles and having this type of mic on a boom, complete with the controls, is a pleasure to use for creating podcasts and the like.
For Twitch users, I cannot think of a better mic quite frankly and place it alongside the RØDE NT-USB series.
At around the $290 mark for the basic mic, $79 for the shock mount and $59 for the Pop filter, it is not inexpensive to be sure (the RØDE NT-USB by comparison is about 200 bucks), but the results I think are worth it.
For more information see https://www.elgato.com/en/wave-3